OF JUDGMENT: 06/13/2016
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: J. KEITH PEARSON SARAH L. DICKEY
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: GINGER M. ROBEY
GRIFFIS, P.J., WILSON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
Timothy Price appeals the Mississippi Workers'
Compensation Commission's denial of his workers'
compensation claim. We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Price was employed by MTD Products from 1989 to 2012. MTD
manufactures lawn equipment, including lawnmowers, snow
blowers, edgers, and tillers. Price's primary job was to
drive a tow motor, which is a modified forklift. Price would
use the tow motor to pick up and transport boxes. However, if
the production line became backed up or there were problems
with the products coming down the general assembly line,
Price would have to physically pick up the boxes and stack
them on the floor. Price estimated the boxes could weigh up
to 120 pounds.
Price alleges he sustained a compensable work-related injury
to his neck and lower back on September 6, 2012.
Specifically, Price claims he "suffered back and neck
injuries, stemming from loading heavy boxes and from twisting
and bending at work." He filed a petition to controvert
on May 14, 2013. An evidentiary hearing was subsequently held
before an administrative judge. A summary of the evidence is
Price testified that he presented to work on September 6,
2012, around 6 a.m., feeling "fine." However,
around 1 to 1:30 p.m., he "all of the sudden started
feeling pain." According to Price, he advised his
supervisor, David Swain, that he hurt his neck and back
lifting lawnmowers. Price testified that Swain instructed him
to see Janice Moore, MTD's occupational nurse, who
advised him to go to Med Serve for treatment.
Price went to Med Serve on September 7, 2012, and saw Dr.
Timothy Albers. Price claimed he told Dr. Albers that he was
hurt at work. Price subsequently went to Baldwyn Family
Medical on September 18, 2012, where he saw nurse
practitioner Pam Hodges.
Price stated that his group health carrier was paying for his
treatment since he did not know about workers'
compensation. However, Price admitted that he went through
yearly training at work, during which he was instructed on
reporting work-related accidents. Price further acknowledged
watching PowerPoint presentations wherein he was instructed
to always report work-related injuries.
Price applied for and received Family Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) leave and short- term disability for twenty-six weeks,
beginning September 18, 2012. He completed an Employee's
Report of Incident or Injury on October 31, 2012.
Swain, Price's supervisor, testified that he did not
recall Price reporting a work-related injury on September 6,
2012. Instead, Price complained of a backache and stated that
his back had been hurting for a long time. Price asked to
take off the next day to go to a doctor's appointment,
which he had already scheduled. Swain stated that he would
have completed a supervisor's accident report on
September 6, 2012, had Price reported a work-related injury.
However, Swain did not complete an accident report until
November 1, 2012, after he was notified by Moore of
Moore, MTD's occupational nurse, testified that she had
no recollection of Price reporting a work-related injury to
either his back or neck on September 6, 2012. She further
testified that had Price reported a work-related injury, she
would have documented the complaints and instructed
Price's supervisor to complete an accident report.
Additionally, Moore stated that had Price reported a
work-related injury, she would have sent him to Express Care
South, not Med Serve. Moore explained that she did not use
Med Serve for work-related injuries, but instead sent injured
workers to Express Care South.
Moore testified that she was first notified by Price of his
work injury on October 30, 2012, by telephone. She advised
Price that he would need to return to the office to complete
an injury report. Price reported to her office October 31,
2012, and completed the report.
Teresa Dye, the human resources coordinator at MTD, confirmed
that Price applied and was approved for FMLA and short-term
disability. Dye stated Price never advised of a work-related
injury and would not have been eligible for short-term
disability had his injury been work-related.
Medical records from Aurora Spine Centers show Price
presented to Dr. Walter Eckman on October 5, 2009,
approximately three years prior to his alleged work injury,
with a chief complaint of low back pain. The records note
that Price had experienced "[c]hronic intermittent
low-back and neck pain for 4 years."
Medical records from Med Serve indicate that on September 7,
2012, the day after his alleged injury, Price presented to
Dr. Albers with a chief complaint of neck and back pain.
According to Dr. Albers's notes, Price had experienced
pain "on and off since 2008" and had
"long-standing cervical and lumbar pain." However,
Dr. Albers noted "[n]o discrete history of trauma to
neck or low back." The notes further reflect that Price
had previously received epidurals for pain and wanted to
pursue this option again, as his pain had "significantly
worsen[ed] over the past couple of months."
The medical records from Price's September 7, 2012 visit
do not indicate an acute injury or "sudden" pain,
as described by Price, nor do they support Price's
assertion that he told Dr. Albers he was injured at work.
On September 10, 2012, an MRI of both the cervical and lumbar
spine was performed, which indicated cervical and lumbar
spondylosis, and multilevel cervical and lumbar disc bulges.
Thereafter, on September 18, 2012, Dr. Albers diagnosed Price
with degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease,
chronic neck and low-back pain, and spondylosis. Price was
excused from work until September 27, 2012.
Price saw nurse practitioner Hodges at Baldwyn Family Medical
Clinic on September 18, 2012. The medical records show Price
complained of back pain and stated he was unable to work.
However, the medical records do not reflect that Price
reported a work-related injury or stated that his pain was
work-related. Instead, Price described the duration of his
pain as "3 y[ea]rs."
Neurosurgeon Dr. Glenn Crosby II testified by deposition that
he first saw Price on October 26, 2012, for an evaluation of
his neck and low back. Price described his low-back pain as
"chronic in nature" and "felt his back pain
was related to the type of work he did." Price indicated
that his neck pain was "more acute" and "was
aggravated in mid-September when he was doing fine without
neck pain and was injured at work lifting some heavy objects,
[and] had immediate neck pain."
Dr. Crosby's impression was that Price had a work injury,
which caused a cervical disc rupture with severe neck pain.
He further found Price's chronic back pain was aggravated
by his work conditions. Dr. Crosby performed surgery on
February 6, ...